Honeydew will always remind me of my Grandma. She was tiny, maybe 5’2″, and petite featured. She was an Iowa farm wife during most of my dad’s childhood, which means she was amazing in a kitchen. I remember sitting around as a child while the adults lounged in chairs, after their third gourmet meal of the day, and tried to guess how much weight they’d gained during this visit to her house. She always quietly smiled and knew to take it as the highest compliment. She lived a ten-hour drive away from my childhood home, so we saw her only once or twice a year. Grandma showed her love through food and a kind temper. She would spend weeks cooking and preparing for house guests. She was famous for her rolls, but the freezer was full of other goodies too: twice baked potatoes, frozen fruit cups, skiers french toast, pies, and numerous cookies and to keep the grandchildren happy.
I don’t know that I ate honeydew any other time during my childhood. I remember asking my mom what it was while standing in grandma’s kitchen, and I remember being fascinated by the name: honeydew. I imagined it sweet and watery, just like the name implied. I didn’t know it would taste fresh, almost like the first hint of a cool breeze in autumn. It wasn’t overpowering like a cantaloupe can sometimes be, and it had just the right balance of flavors. It was a lot like grandma, the perfect mixture of sweet and delicate. My grandma’s been gone for fifteen years and I feel the sting of regret when I think of the lessons, both culinary and character, I could have learned from such a woman. So, today’s recipe is simple, in her memory. I hope I do justice to a fruit that will always remind me of one of the best women I have ever known, both in and out of the kitchen.
First, halve, seed, and peel your melon. See photos below for the steps of properly peeling any kind of melon. Use a big knife. For those of you who are not comfortable with big knives, start practicing on melons. It’s the exact way I got comfortable wielding one of those huge chef’s knives around. My melons in the photos are kinda small, but it’s what we grew, so it’s what I had for photo props. The process is the same for any melon, even the 3o pound watermelons you want diced up.
Begin to curve the knife blade along with the curve of the melon as you slice downward:
Next, dice it up. But, really, keep your hands out of the way of the knife, OK? I need a 3rd arm for this photo blogging and somehow the shot below looks like I’m about to slice through my hand (I didn’t). Do as I say in this case, not as I do, and hold the melon more from the top! Stop the knife just before you reach the other side, as in the photo. This will keep the melon intact, rather than sprawling everywhere while you dice:
Next, ,cut downward in strips the width of dice you desire:
Finally, cross cut your previous cuts to form the cubes. You will be left with a small end. Lay it flat side down on the cutting board and finish the dice:
Toss to combine, and then allow to sit while you prepare the rest of your meal: